Matt Miazga: The buzz before the first Hudson River Derby in 2015 was "huge"

Matt Miazga - US men's national team - tight shot

It’s been over four years since Matt Miazga left the New York Red Bulls to join Chelsea, but the US men’s national team center back still fondly recalls the early days of the Hudson River Derby.

The rivalry was born in 2015 when New York City FC, then an expansion club, strolled into Red Bull Arena for an early-May encounter. Bragging rights were on the line, and Miazga sensed mounting pressure to get three points.

“I remember at the time the buzz was huge, and I remember for us in that locker room we were like, 'This is the biggest game,'” Miazga, 24, said during a recent ExtraTime interview. “Imagine starting a rivalry and losing the first few games or the first games. How bad would that rub off on the fan base and mentally, as well? We knew going into the games we had to win. It didn't matter how, we had to win.”

The Red Bulls did exactly that, securing a 2-1 victory behind a Bradley Wright-Phillips brace. That game will be re-aired in the “MLS Classics: Remix” series, with two other Hudson River Derby matches also taking place during NYCFC’s inaugural season. 

In the seasons since, Miazga has made two appearances for Chelsea, and instead featured heavily on loan. He’s currently with Reading in the Championship, but has also seen stints at Ligue 1 side Nantes and Eredivisie club Vitesse. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic suspending seasons around the globe, Miazga is caught in an in-between period with Reading. They sit in 14th place and eight points adrift of a playoff spot in England’s second division, though Miazga felt they were turning a corner.

“It's tough to gauge really, because I was hoping we'd continue the season on where we were just hitting the right form for ourselves,” Miazga said. “Obviously you guys know the Championship is a very unforgiving league, where a couple results can go your way, a couple results can't go your way, you win a couple games and you're back in the thick of things.”

Matt Miazga: The buzz before the first Hudson River Derby in 2015 was "huge" -

Matt Miazga is again on loan at Reading | USA Today Sports

However Miazga’s club situation unfolds, he also eyes more USMNT minutes. He’s been capped 18 times, with a viral social media moment surfacing during a September 2018 friendly against Mexico. Miazga taunted El Tri attack Diego Lainez, showing his combative side.

But Miazga, a New Jersey native and Homegrown signing for RBNY back in 2013, said that’s simply part of who he is.

“If you're my teammate and you know me, when we're in the game, I don't really care about anything,” Miazga said. “I'm going in there to knock your head off. I want to win at all costs, and if I'm going to talk trash I'm going to talk trash. Talking trash is instilled in me growing up in New Jersey. I don't know, that's just how we talk to each other.”

For more from Miazga, check out the full interview here.